New Delhi: Star India, the official television broadcaster of the Indian Premier League (IPL) which begins on 7 April, is expected to earn Rs1,600 crore from on-air brand partnerships, registering an over 30% increase from last year when Sony Pictures Networks earned Rs1,200 crore in ad sales from IPL season 10.

According to a senior executive at Star India who declined to be named, Star has sold 90% of its on-air media inventory, signing 80 brand sponsorship deals so far. The brand partnerships include those with Vodafone, Amazon, PepsiCo India, Mondelez India, Samsung, Nivea, MRF Tyres, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India and online food delivery firm Swiggy, among others.

Out of the 80 on-air brand partners, presenting sponsors include smartphone maker Vivo, Coca-Cola and Reliance Jio. There are nine associate sponsors including Future Group, wire and cable manufacturer Polycab, Parle Products, Association of Mutual Funds of India and MakeMyTrip.

“IPL is immensely popular and the biggest home-grown cricket league, both in terms of viewership and sponsorships. We expect to see a 30-40% jump in on-air sponsorship this year. Star India is already investing in creating enough buzz around the upcoming league. While television is a big revenue churner for Star, digital will see an increase in ad sales because of high viewership owing to affordable data cost," said Harsha Joshi, an independent media-buying consultant.

According to media buyers, Hotstar, the video streaming platform owned by Star India, is expected to earn the broadcasting network between Rs150 and Rs200 crore. Last year, it made Rs136 crore from advertising. Star India, which for the first time has both TV and digital broadcast rights for IPL, has been selling bundled contracts to advertisers, allowing them to advertise both on its TV channels as well as on Hotstar.

“IPL will help Hotstar with at least a 20% surge in viewership. With the league being in the snacky content format along with cheap data tariffs, I foresee Hotstar outdoing itself both in terms of viewership and ad sales revenues, which may go up to Rs200 crore," said Ashish Bhatnagar, managing director (north), OmnicomMedia Group.

IPL, into its 11th edition, has turned into a money-spinning property as interest in the league continues to soar. Star India is aiming to crack combined (digital and television) viewership of 700 million this year. IPL’s 2017 season garnered 411 million viewers, as per data provided by TV viewership monitoring agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India, up from 361 million for IPL 9. Meanwhile, Hotstar recorded a total viewership of 130 million last year, up from 100 million for IPL 9.

Star is going to live-cast the matches in four regional languages—Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bengali—along with Hindi and English.

Apart from media money, IPL has also leapfrogged in terms of on-ground and team sponsorship money. According to ad industry estimates, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is expected to earn nearly Rs576 crore worth of sponsorship money through on-ground partnerships. The board has partnered with Vivo as title sponsor (Rs440 crore per year), Paytm as umpire partner (Rs30 crore), Future Group (Rs42 crore), Tata Motors (Rs40 crore) and Ceat Tyres (Rs24 crore) as strategic time-out partner. The team sponsorship will generate close to Rs350 crore of revenues.

Saujanya Shrivastava, group chief marketing officer, Goibibo said that their objective was to go beyond simple sponsorship association to active engagement with the audience. “Goibibo targets young tech-savvy consumers which aligns well with the IPL viewership. As principal sponsors of the Mumbai Indians team, we will have a logo presence on the back of the jersey. But for me, this association is an unique confluence of online travel, cricket and Bollywood (with Deepika Padukone being our brand ambassador). We are also associate broadcast sponsor with Star India so we will be promoting ad campaigns to truly connect with consumers, “ he said.

IPL is a great platform for visibility, said Vivek Srivatsa, head-marketing, passenger vehicle business unit, Tata Motors, adding “The viewership and reach you get for all the 58 matches and 58 days across the country is unbeatable. Hence, associating with an event of such a large scale greatly accelerates the consideration set for the product. Once you are a part of people’s purchase cycle the product, which is inherently strong, will deliver on sales volumes."

Overall, IPL as a property is expected to pull in over Rs2,700 crore worth of advertising money this year, say media buyers. The all-inclusive sum includes both sponsorship as well as media money.

“The advertiser response has been phenomenal so far when it comes to team sponsorship. Everyone is looking forward to the new avatar of the league after a decade. Most of the teams have got a decent number of brand sponsors so far. We have signed six deals for our client Chennai Super Kings," said Tuhin Mishra, managing director of sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures.

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